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   In fashion, recycling and branding go hand in hand

In fashion, recycling and branding go hand in hand

Published : Jun 14, 2016, 2:50 am IST
Updated : Jun 14, 2016, 2:50 am IST

Most consumer goods are now taking an eco-friendly bend to make lifestyles healthy, comfortable and contamination-free.


Most consumer goods are now taking an eco-friendly bend to make lifestyles healthy, comfortable and contamination-free. Effects of harsh chemicals and pollutants are otherwise spelling nemesis on urban subsistence. So what can be better than adopting sustainability as a practical way of life to ring in fresh and wholesome changes within our daily system

The fashion fraternity is now abuzz with sustainability. From designers and stylistas to fashion savvy clients, all have learnt the art of pursuing an austerity drive and are resorting to organic initiatives at moderate rates. Restraint is the new order of the day and astronomical expenses are curbed to look into nature for inspiration. The bottom line is to return to one’s roots. Without tampering with quality and aesthetics.


Designer-duo Jaya Bhatt and Ruchi Tripathi of Indigene brand decode the crux of sustainable fashion as “being kind to Mother Nature and humane to people while making a product”. They add that, “There is no question of compromising on beauty or aesthetics. For example, the most diaphanous cottons and silks, handwoven in the ancient times, were considered a thing of luxury. But today, a lot of people might find cotton casual and polyester or manmade fabrics more luxe. So the fundamental mantra is, ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ and it’s all about individual perspective.”

Designer Ritika Arya Jain credits public awareness for the upsurge in sustainability: “More and more people are becoming conscious about the problems — the damages being caused to the surrounding environment — which explains their change in attitude towards consumer purchases.” “Designers are gradually approaching environmental concerns put forward by their regular clientele. Like other craftsmen, they too accept their social responsibility towards making a difference to their collection with organic content. Sewing green clothes for their buyers is both morally and creatively satisfying,” she observes.


Extensive dissemination of information on the subject by an active media as well as rounds of discussions about the manner in which to deal with the increasing crisis of global warming, climate change, greenhouse effect, and carbon footprint, have in turn prompted the well-read populace and public-private sectors to turn sustainable.

Counting the reasons cited for sustainable fashion as an essential pill, one wonders if it was destined to happen. “Yes, of course. You may say that sustainability is in no way a bolt from the blue and definitely not struck as a surprise magic-chant to the fashion industry. It was well forecast. But, the massive alertness for the same in general has only now aggravated as a matter of grave concern,” claims Jain. To prove her point, she enlists how established designers and budding talents have showcased this “green revolution” in their recent collections.


When we talk of reasonably priced fashion, it doesn’t imply inferior quality. Even demure-dignity can be charming and modesty, beautiful. Fashionable output from agrarian materials can be amped up to appear slick and glossy. A plain-Jane clad in conventional weaves like khadi can look gracefully glamorous. Who says subtle can’t be sexy One must learn how to merchandise attractively within budgetary constraints.

It’s a misconception that sustainability cannot penetrate upmarket luxury segments. In fact, internationally, high-end brands are dabbling in sustainable fashion. “Premium labels like Patagonia, Marks & Spencer, Armani Jeans, Kowtow, H&M, Mina+Oyla, et al have embraced this diktat already,” reveals Jain.


Back home, Ritu Kumar, Karishma Shahani Khan, Anupamaa Dayal, Anaka Narayanan, Samant Chauhan, Anokhi and Bhusattva are strongly rooting for this trend. “Sustainable fashion can produce dazzling party/wedding dresses too,” Jain adds.

According to recent reports, the A-league H&M is utilising a fabric called tencel, a soft material extracted from the cellulose of a eucalyptus wood pulp. Even Bengaluru-based Summer House avidly employs this material in its production-chain. Another solid substance termed denimite is derived from the debris of denim scraps of tattered jeans with a view to craft out artifacts and decorative earrings.

As fresh materials are difficult to source and emerge less sustainable in texture, the need to recycle existing fabrics gains importance. For instance, SegraSegra, a Hungarian group, recycles used bicycle inner tubes to create stylish, leather/lycra-like jackets and t-shirts. New Zealander Emma Whiteside crafted a large, sculptural gown out of recycled radiator copper. Fashion pundits predict that as resources become scarce farsight and inventiveness would be instrumental in changing the face of fashion.


Admits designer Nidhi Munim: “Everything ranging from cotton to wool can be reworked. Now brands are also using zero waste design techniques alongside disassembly to exercise a positive impact on the environment.”

“Recycling is the best way to minimise wastage,” echo Jaya-Ruchi of Indigene. “These days, people are also using a lot of rubber waste to manufacture bags, wallets and belts etc.,” they add.

Ritika Arya Jain enumerates cotton, wool, jute, zips, buttons, etc, as materials that can be reworked to roll out a fashionable yet sustainable wardrobe.

It is believed that handloom and handicrafts fairs allow designers weavers, and artisans to sell their items to target-clients bringing them better profit margins. But Jaya and Ruchi beg to differ: “These products come at a certain price-tag and are best accepted in international forums on foreign shores or at niche bazaars and fetes, not government-run exhibitions.”


Many artisans complain about exploitation in ‘sweatshops’ since the inception of factory settings in fashion production. Can a sustainable fashion-industry address this problem

“The socio-economic angle drawn towards sustainability and its staunch supporters stresses upon equality. It highlights the sharing of growth and vision of workers, creating more jobs for them, bringing their wages under a safety-cover and skill-development. Thus a consensus towards mutual respect is ideally reached. Sustainable brands endorse a code of conduct that helps ensure nobody is treated partially. There is transparency, everyone is free to choose his/her task and is paid fairly at the month-end,” Nidhi Munim concludes.